We review the Cherry Mobile Desire R8!

Every time I hear the brand Cherry Mobile, I would associate them with affordable, budget-friendly smartphones catering to the masses. Little did most of us know that they also make phones that fit the mid-range market, and the Desire R8 is one of them. Positioned as a premium model, the Desire R8 has a premium look and a competitive set of features, with its dual rear cameras being the main highlight of this phone. Can the Desire R8 have a fighting chance against the growing mid-range smartphone game?

Cherry Mobile Desire R8 specs

  • 1.5GHz MediaTek octa-core 6750T
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 5.5-inch full HD IPS display, 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • 32GB of storage, expandable via microSD up to 64GB
  • 13-megapixel, f/2.0 primary rear camera, 5-megapixel secondary rear camera, LED flash
  • 8-megapixel, f/2.2 front camera with LED flash
  • Dual SIM
  • 3G, LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, Fingerprint scanner, USB Type-C
  • 3000mAh battery
  • Android Nougat

The most premium Cherry Mobile phone to date

As the Desire R8 is positioned towards the mid-range category like the Taiji, it makes use of aluminum for its back, with two plastic tabs at the phone’s top and bottom. The rear takes in some design cues from Huawei’s GR5 2017, save for the large two circles housing the two rear cameras, with the LED flash sandwiched between the two lenses.

You find the SIM tray on the left side of the phone. Unlike most Cherry Mobile phones, the Desire R8’s SIM tray holds Nano-SIMs instead of Micro-SIMs. Since the tray is a hybrid type, you have to choose either a second Nano-SIM or a MicroSD card.

At the phone’s top, you have your headphone jack and secondary microphone.

At the right side, you have your power and volume control buttons.

At the phone’s bottom, you have your USC-C port and your dual grilles housing the speaker and primary microphone.

The front has styling cues from OPPO, but with a few tweaks. At the top portion, you have your LED flash on the left, your display proximity sensor and earpiece in the middle, and your 8-megapixel selfie camera. In between the earpiece and the camera, you have a notification light that blinks when you get any updates (from messages to social media posts), and stays put when you charge the phone. The display is a 5.5-inch Full HD IPS display covered in 2.5D Gorilla Glass.

You have your home button (that doubles as a fingerprint) scanner and two capacitative buttons at the bottom part of the phone’s front. Aside from the capacitative keys being customizable in the settings menu, one thing I like about the Desire R8’s UI is that I only need to place my thumb on the fingerprint scanner to unlock the phone, even when the screen is off.

A decent performer

Considering that it is priced a hair under Php10K, the Desire R8 has pretty impressive internals with a Mediatek 6750T processor, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of internal storage. Running the AnTuTu benchmark test, the Desire R8 scored 43272, which is pretty decent as a midrange phone. Using this phone as a daily driver, the Desire R8 is snappy with multitasking, in loading web pages, and in playing games. I played Asphalt Nitro on this phone, and I experienced minimal lag and frame drops on its default setting. Another good thing with the Desire R8? The phone does not heat up significantly even if you use it for extended periods of time, or when you have to do a few processor-intensive tasks.

As for its screen, the Full HD IPS panel displays colors very well, though the setting for Adaptive brightness is a bit dim. Not that much of a big deal, since you can adjust the brightness manually when you need to. Cherry Mobile definitely placed a good IPS panel for the Desire R8, as I enjoyed watching 1080p video content from YouTube with this phone.

Cameras work well as advertised

Now let’s get into the Desire R8’s selling point. While it is not the first dual camera offering from Cherry Mobile, the Desire R8 comes with a good mid-range setup, comprising of a 13-megapixel, f/2.0 primary rear camera, 5-megapixel secondary rear camera.

With a dual camera setup, it does not come to a surprise that the Desire R8 has a portrait mode (called dual camera mode in the Desire R8) that works similar to the one found in Huawei’s GR5 2017. It works under certain conditions (the camera UI will remind you that dual camera works best for distances less than two meters), but when it does, it can deliver stellar “portrait” shots. Photos you take using dual camera mode can be adjusted further in the photo gallery, and while it is a bit gimmicky, it does the job well.

Other than its portrait mode, the cameras found in the Desire R8 is one of the better offerings found in any Cherry Mobile phone I have encountered to date. Autofocus is snappy, and you get good image detail, even in low light shots. The same can be said with the 8-megapixel, f/2.2 front camera; while it is not “picture perfect” selfie levels, photos taken from the front camera is pretty good for its price. Also, if you want the full quality of a photo, the Desire R8 has a RAW option, saving images as .DNG files.

Average battery life, but we’re not complaining

Having a 3000mAh battery, the Desire R8 has an adequate battery pack to power its internals and Full HD display. Running PCMark’s battery test got us a result of a little over five and a half hours: pretty much on the average side. On real-life use, the Desire R8 managed to last for at least a day while using it for games, for photography, for emails, and for checking social media feeds. Charging it from zero to a hundred percent will take you less than an hour, as the Desire R8 has quick charging.

Verdict: Arguably the best Cherry Mobile phone to date

While I am not used to Cherry Mobile making phones that are near the Php 10K mark, the Desire R8 blew me away with what it has to offer. Aside from its more premium overall design, the Desire R8’s cameras gets the job done, whenever you want to bring out your inner shutterbug or use it as a “backup” camera of sorts. With this phone, this proves that Cherry Mobile does have a fighting chance in the mid-range phone segment if it produces models like the Desire R8.

As for improvements, I hope Cherry Mobile removes the bloatware equipped with all of their devices, including the annoying ads that pop up occasionally. And also with models like this, I do hope they will give an Android Oreo (8.0) update to make this a real winner in the mid-range smartphone wars.